Pricing dispute causes shortage of critical medicine


A simmering price dispute between the pharmaceutical industry and the Health Ministry has resulted in an acute shortage of critical medicines, forcing patients to rely on smuggled and potentially counterfeit drugs at increased costs.

Grappling with rising production costs owing to skyrocketing inflation and massive devaluation of the local currency in recent years, the industry demands a 38 per cent increase.

The government, however, has rejected the demand, propelling pharmaceutical companies to either stop or go into a limited-scale production of scores of essential and non-essential medicines.

Adding salt to the injuries, the importers have stopped or drastically reduced the imports of about 100 crucial medicines related to general anesthesia, plasma-derived products, vaccines, oncology products, and biological products, causing a dearth of medicines across the country.

“Some of these medicines are either not being imported or are available in the market on a limited scale just because of the legal binding,” Abdul Samad, an office-bearer of the Pakistan Chemist and Drugs Association, told Anadolu, citing a government law that binds an importer to not completely stop importing medicine for which he has been granted a license.

“Most of the importers are nowadays importing a minimum quantity of dozens of essential and non-essential medicines just to keep their licenses intact. Otherwise, it’s no longer a profitable business for them due to a huge devaluation of the rupee against the dollar,” he said.

Samad cited the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war as key reasons behind rising prices for products on the international market, primarily because of, and an unprecedented rise in global inflation. Anadolu Agency